Life After “I Kissed Dating Goodbye”

Back when I was gearing up to do my review series on I Kissed Dating Goodbye, I reached out to Joshua Harris to see if he’d be interested in contributing anything. He refused, although cordially, and I decided to give him the benefit of the doubt. He was so incredibly young when he wrote it, had spent several years in a toxic church… and after all, he’s attending seminary now, so maybe he’s just too busy.

Turns out I was a little wrong.

There’s been a bit of a storm in a teacup about the interview he gave with NPR, but Libby Anne at Love, Joy, Feminism wrote out my reaction almost word-for-word:

Oh my god, really? I mean, “the consequences of the way people applied the book,” is Harris freaking serious with this? That is not what taking responsibility looks like. The problem was not that his book was misunderstood. The problem was what he said in his book.

You should read the rest of her response, as she does an excellent job pointing out all the different ways Joshua avoided actually taking responsibility for the harm I Kissed Dating Goodbye has caused.

Shortly after he gave that interview, a few anti-purity-culture writers and activists noticed that he’d launched something new on his webpage: a call for stories. It’s been edited a few times since it went live, and initially he was asking for permission to use our stories online or in print, signaling to anyone who’s been on this particular carousel before that he was going to “revisit” I Kissed Dating Goodbye in some way, probably another book or speaking tour or some such– but most importantly in a way that we wouldn’t have control over.

So, some of us decided to launch our own, separate platform:

While we think that actually taking the time to listen is a good start for Harris, many of us are deeply uncomfortable with his chosen format. By giving Harris permission to share these stories, they are being licensed to him for use in whatever way he sees fit—in whole in or in part, censored or uncensored, in service of whatever conclusions he comes to about the impact of his work.

But the reality is that the impact of his work is not his to decide.

This week, we’re inviting you to share your stories—uncut and uncensored. We want to curate these stories in the hopes of preventing more damage from being done and to provide an alternative narrative to the rigid and narrow thinking that IKDG and Harris’ other work espouses.

Today is the beginning of our synchroblog/link-up. At lifeafterIKDG.com, there’s a way for you to submit your own blog post, podcast, or video that will be automatically posted to the main landing page. If you don’t have your own blog/channel, or if you would like to submit your story anonymously, we’re also taking submissions through IKDGstories.tumblr.com. If writing out a whole post or doing a whole video isn’t your style, we’re also using the hashtag #IKDGstories on twitter, and will be hosting a twitter chat Wednesday evening.

Each of us– Jim Kast-Keat, Emily Maynard, Elizabeth Esther, Emily Joy, and Hannah Paasch— are contributing posts for the site, and mine went up today.

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  • Oh, this is awesome! So glad to see that kind of strength focused like this! I read one of Emily’s posts years ago and loved it, and was so disappointed when Prodigal closed. Best of luck to all of you an this project!

  • KellyLynne

    Yeah, that is a faux apology if ever I heard one. All it’s missing is the phrase “mistakes were made.”

    Also, one of the things that struck me from Libby Anne’s post is that he seriously teaches that masturbation is sinful within marriage *and* that any sexual attraction to someone you aren’t already married to is sinful. That sets up a totally impossible task for couples. Without ever even *thinking* about what turns you on or what you might enjoy in the bedroom, you’re supposed to somehow marry someone who is so perfectly compatible with you that neither of you will ever need to masturbate. For that matter, heaven help you if you or your spouse ever goes through a period of low desire because they’re sick or stressed out, or physically can’t have sex (like the six weeks you have to wait after having a baby). Because there’s not *enough* pressure on women to be perfectly available sexually.

  • So glad you all are doing this!

  • Ready_to_Fly

    I remember being told by a speaker at a College and Careers group that “the reason his wife thought he was ‘hot stuff,’ the reason his wife and him had a great relationship, was because “he was the only man who had ever touched her, he was the only one who had ever been with her or made love to her.”
    I burst into tears and ran to the bathroom. I had been sexually abused throughout my life, and I was convinced that meant I could never have a beautiful, rich, full sex life. I was convinced that no “good Christian boy” would ever want to marry me. It screwed me up big time…I fell for a guy who ended up being emotionally and sexually abusive towards me…and I didn’t leave as quickly as I could have, because I thought that was all I deserved. Thankfully, I had friends who came alongside me and gave me the strength and helped build up my self esteem enough for me to finally leave. Deciding that the purity culture message was ridiculous and dangerous helped me get on the right path, and I am now in a sexually healthy marriage, where I am cherished, lived, and most of all, equal to my husband.

  • Whew. I’m not surprised – he made his name on that book, so I can see why he wouldn’t want to disavow it publicly. He really should, though – it’s proven so universally harmful. I’m glad to see you taking on the “just give me your stories and I can do whatever I want with them, wheeee!” idea as well. I think he’s well-meaning but misguided, but that doesn’t give him carte blanche to use the stories of real people harmed by his book as a launching point.

  • Steve Wells

    I have a blog where I have critiqued IKDG for a number of years. One post is where I talk about the problems Josh Harris admitted he had in how own church but hasn’t shared on his blog:


    This message Josh Harris gave and my blog post is quite old.

    My biggest issue with Josh Harris is how on his blog he has remained silent about all the problems IKDG has caused. Harris could have easily shared issues, corrections etc. on his blog but has basically been silent.

    Seeing this silence I am quite skeptical Josh Harris will do much now but you never know.

  • Larissa Morgan

    Did you see this article that came out this week? http://www.slate.com/articles/life/faithbased/2016/08/i_kissed_dating_goodbye_author_is_maybe_kind_of_sorry.html Essentially, he’s starting to back-peddle just a little…

    • Oh, I wish. I’ve gotten private communications from him that stipulate that he’s not anywhere close to back-peddling. Not really. He’s starting to realize that he shouldn’t have written anything about relationships when he was a single, virginal 21-year-old, but so far he’s said *nothing* about anything he actually believe(d/s).

      • Larissa Morgan

        Well, THAT’S disappointing! =^/ So you think its because there’s been a growing backlash of resentful once-followers and he’s just playing the part of a thoughtful, wiser man to sidestep actual responsibility? It would figure.